You've completed your first draft of your guest list with your fiance - that was simple.
But wow, you're amazed at the number of people on this first draft. Do I know this many people? And as the days pass, the list continues to grow longer and longer.
No matter the size of the wedding, every newlywed dreads the thought of whittling down her invites. However, if you've ever considered (even for a second!) a small and intimate wedding, this process is absolutely necessary and essential.
Here are a few tips to help make this process a little easier, and less stressful, for both you and your fiance:
Set Your Boundaries, Expectations, and Rules Early
Though you may be unaware, your parents and future in-laws have already mentally invited a group of friends and/or family members to a day they've looked forward to since you were a baby.
Before you get too far into your wedding planning, sit your parents down and give them the number of guests you plan to stick to. Approach this conversation as united front, and express your desire for an intimate experience. If your parents are anything like the ones we know, this first conversation might be met with resistance.
"But Second Cousin Susie invited you to her son's wedding!"
"Our neighbor Carol would be heartbroken! She always supported your school fundraisers!"
"Steve and Barb are good friends of mine and I couldn't possibly leave them off this list!"
You might need to leave the conversation here and continue to revisit it throughout the coming weeks. Once you feel they've softened to the idea (even if they haven't) give them a number you'd like them to aim for when creating their own guest list, and make sure you've already created a list of your own. Some people don't know where to start when deciding who makes the cut. A few ground rules we like to use as criteria are:
Do YOU know them on a personal level? (Your parents surely have many friends, but if you don't know them personally, they won't be that upset about not getting an invite to YOUR special day)
Plus ones: No Ring, No Invite (or is this relationship considered long term/forever?)
Have you had a real conversation/catch up in the past year?
Would you call them or reach out personally on their birthday? (This is one we like to use because it very clearly reminds you who your inner most circle is.)
Remember, this celebration isn't about your parents: it's your day. Though if you are finding this aspect of an intimate wedding particularly difficult, a celebratory reception a week or two after the wedding is always an option! We are talking back yard BBQ or a big potluck. Nothing expensive, but a great Come One, Come All for any family or friend your parents would like to celebrate with.
A great way to limit your guest list is to limit the number of children and plus-ones that are allowed per guest. With a casual hint in your Save the Dates, "Leave the kids at home for a memorable night..." or even more straight-forward on your RSVP: " 2 spots have been reserved in your name."
You might deal with some parents who be offended that their children or cousin was not also invited. While it is easy to get caught up in those feelings of guilt, most people will understand the choice and --after a little bit of time-- will support your decision.
You'll have a few who feel hurt that they were not invited to your celebration. Ensure that they still feel cared about by following-up with a phone call to explain your appreciation for their love and understanding: "It was a very difficult decision but we decided to keep it to our most intimate friends and family. I want you to know how much we appreciate your well wishes, thank you for understanding." This step can also be completed before you send out Save-the-Dates if you anticipate certain guests taking offense.
If anyone sends a gift, do not feel pressured to add them to your list, but do send a gracious thank-you note!
Creating your perfect mini guest list can be a difficult task: you never want to hurt anyone's feelings or to offend. However, at the end of the day, remember that this day is about you and your fiance, nobody else. Sure, everyone loves to celebrate the happy couple, but it is the inner circle, the ride or die, the soulmate friends and family who will support you through thick and thin that you want filling your mind's eye as you say "I Do."